Today is Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.”
Bernard J. Cigrand is considered the father of Flag Day. In 1885, as a young teacher at a high school in Waubeka, Wisconsin, Cigrand put a small flag on his desk and told his students to write essays about it. He fought for the rest of his life to formally establish the holiday, according to the National Flag Day Foundation.
The flag has been changed 27 times. The final star, for Hawaii, was added in 1960.
The first time the flag was flown after being adopted was on Aug. 3, 1777 in Rome, New York.
The flag’s colors have become significant over time. The white is for purity, the red is for valor and the blue is for justice, according to usflag.org.
President George Washington described the design like this: “We take the stars from heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty.”
The first flag was probably created by Francis Hopkinson, who signed the Declaration of Independence. He requested “a quarter cask of the public wine” as payment for his design. He was rejected.
Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag according to a pattern, which was likely Hopkinson’s. Legend has it she changed the six-point stars he’d drawn to five-point ones because they were easier to stitch.
The current design of the U.S. flag was created by Robert G. Heft, who made the pattern for a high school project. He earned a B- at first, but when the government chose it, his teacher raised the grade to an A.
There are six American flags on the moon. Five are standing, and Neil Armstrong’s fell over!